Looking Back to Look Ahead

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

I just read a heart-wrenching article by a grandmother of one of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (US) that occurred three years ago this month.

The article was a reminder that as history shows, history often (and sometimes unfortunately) repeats itself.

Have you ever heard anyone utter this question…“When will we ever learn?”

Considering worldwide events, including and since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, there may be benefits in spending more time looking back to look ahead.

Here then is what I wrote about Dawn Hochsprung, the amazing principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, at the time of the shootings in her beloved school…

Standing right along with the teachers in elementary schools, effective principals also catch kids’ attention.

Principals like Dawn Hochsprung, only 47 years old when she was killed as she rushed towards a terrible intruder outside her office.

Hochsprung has been described as an engaged leader at Sandy Hook ES, with an awesome ability to engage other teachers and most especially the young students in her school.

She’s said to have worn eye-catching costumes to entertain students.

I can picture Hochsprung wearing a “Dr. Seuss hat” on March 4 each year to celebrate the birthday of one of America’s most beloved authors.

Costume attire that a wonderful principal, like Dawn Hochsprung, might have worn

Costume attire that a wonderful principal, like Dawn Hochsprung, might have worn.

She might have even tucked a little soft toy, like a baby hippo under the hat so that it would fall out when she pulled the hat off her head to…you guessed it…catch young kids’ attention!

Reading about Hochsprung clarified the power of attentionology tools and tricks in another way for me, too.

I hope this simple concept helps you…educators who catch kids’ attention with fun, functional strategies, like Hochsprung used, generally relate to children better.

When educators look back to look forward, they also strengthen relationships and build trust.

Children open themselves up to learning and growing when they are in the hands of those they trust.

Hochsprung, I’ve read, also hosted what she called “appy hours” – events where her teachers would gather around a table at school to:

"There's an app for that!" "Let's look at information about how we can use technologies to help students prepare for the future."

“There’s an app for that!” “Let’s look at information about how we can use technologies to help students prepare for the future.”

  • learn new “apps” to use in helping kids master skills.
  • swap ideas about the best technologies for K – 5 classroom application.
  • brainstorm about ways for school and community to work together.
  • get to know each other better.

As teachers consider best practices for today, will we remember to look back to yesterday so that we can look ahead to a better tomorrow?

Maybe, just maybe, we can teach young children to pay attention to history –

not the specific details of school shootings, but age-appropriate descriptions of historical events –

so that they take time as they grow up to look back to look ahead all the wiser.

Let’s not wait until New Years Eve to toast in hopes for 2016.

Let’s express ourselves now.

Let’s help our students express what is in their minds and hearts, too, as they look back to look forward.

Let’s model positive behaviors like Dawn Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, did with the hope that the violence will end.

How do you help children look back to look ahead? Please send comments.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon ,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

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